Every year, when Anzisha Prize applications open, we hit the road to find Africa’s top youngest entrepreneurs during the Anzisha Prize Tour. The Anzisha Prize Tour helps us to find a diverse pool of applicants, through on the ground partnerships with organizations throughout Africa which also have a similar mission of reducing youth unemployment in Africa by encouraging entrepreneurship. This year, we are excited to share we will be heading to: Angola, Botswana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Sudan and Tunisia.
Read on to learn about how we decided where to go!
In North Africa:
Youth unemployment is up to 42% in Tunisia even for the nation’s many college graduates. While this remains a major challenge for the nation, with every challenge is an opportunity. Young Tunisians are approaching lack of unemployment by starting their own ventures with the help of co-working spaces, and government initiatives. Since the Tunisian revolution, a surplus of co-working spaces are now available for young Tunisian entrepreneurs to make use of. In fact, one of these spaces, Cogite, is recognized as a top ten co-working space in the world.
We look forward to meeting young Tunisians who are making use of these spaces to address unemployment and explore non-traditional paths of employment for themselves at Tunis Business School, Cogite, Startup Haus Tunisia, Jamaity and the likes.
Sudan boasts of a literacy rate of 86% yet youth unemployment staggers at 23.3%. The British Council has begun to address this opportunity gap in collaboration with Sudan’s government through hosting entrepreneurship competitions such as Mashrouy (meaning ‘My Project’) in Arabic. Sudanese business leaders have also taken matters into their own hands by establishing Impact Hub Khartoum in 2015. We look forward to partnering with them to continue to spark entrepreneurial mindsets in Sudan and hopefully finding our very first Sudanese Anzisha finalist.
In Southern Africa:
We chose Angola, Malawi and Botswana in this region for three key reasons: 1) a cultural appreciation for entrepreneurship and 2) demonstrated government and private sector backing for entrepreneurs and 3) low representation of Anzisha Fellows in our fellow pool. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor notes in these three countries, at minimum, 80% of people view entrepreneurs of high status, demonstrating a cultural appreciation for entrepreneurs. In Angola, and Botswana, both economies have a heavy reliance on a particular sector – oil and gas or diamonds and nickel, respectively. Therefore, both governments are creating spaces and opportunities for young people to innovate and come up with business solutions which encourage sector diversification. Malawi’s government notes that entrepreneurs in Malawi tend to be young with business owners on average at 31 years old. The government agrees with us that “small businesses can become a catalyst for accelerated economic development for Malawi” and is making strides to assist Malawians with access to business ownership.
Our current fellow pool includes extraordinaires such as: Naledi Mosweu, founder of Guardian Angels Company, a production and sales company created of all natural perfumes and Gonjetso Chinyama founder of Pakwathu, a website that allows users to search for properties – from houses to farmland – in Malawi. We look forward to recruitment in the region we are located.
In West Africa:
Liberia’s government is actively working to make entrepreneurship a viable way to earn an income in Liberia. 11,000 entrepreneurs have benefited from the establishment of the Liberia Business Registry, which was launched just in April 2011. Other ways the government has made business ownership accessible include elimination of the business registration fee and creation of an online information portal to help local businesses get started. Fewer barriers to entry in Liberia and youth empowerment organizations which emphasize the importance of entrepreneurship, draws us to Liberia.
In East Africa:
We are drawn to Kenya to join Ashoka and the MasterCard Foundation at the Future Foward: Changemaker Conference to share insights and thought leadership amongst youth entrepreneurs and youth serving organizations.
In addition to the Changemaker Conference, we chose Kenya because it is home of many of our Fellows such as Laetitia Mukungu, founder of africarabbitcentre.com, a cooperative organization that has established rabbit farming for sustainable development that empowers poor grassroot women, Tom Osborn, founder of GreenChar, and Ifrah Arab, founder of Supermom to name a few. While in Kenya, we will reconnect with our Fellows, and visit their ventures.